The abundance and vector competence of Culex restuans Theobald and Culex pipiens L. were compared to determine the relative importance of these species as West Nile virus (WNV) vectors in the northeastern United States. Abundance was estimated from egg raft collections at 12 sites in Albany, Suffolk, and Richmond counties, New York, during July, August, and September 2002 and 2003. Cx. restuans was more abundant than Cx. pipiens in both urban and rural areas, comprising 86% of 1,623 egg rafts collected. Vector competence for WNV was estimated after feeding on an artificial bloodmeal and in vitro transmission assays. The vector competence of the two species for WNV was similar, but the dynamics of infection seems to be mosquito species dependent. These findings suggest an important role for Cx. restuans in WNV transmission cycles in New York.
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Vol. 42 • No. 5